The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
icon of list


- May 15, 2017 -

Primers for Swarming

There are at least five primer conditions, or colony states, that regulate swarm preparations. These primers act on a time scale of weeks or months and set the stage for the eventual swarm event which operates on a time scale or hours or minutes. These primer states are, from top to bottom: (1) colony size, whether measured by worker population or combs, (2) brood nest congestion, whether worker population or brood, (3) high ratio of young : old workers, (4) decreasing efficiency of queen pheromone movement throughout the nest, and (5) queen cell construction. Large, congested colonies with a high ratio of young : old bees, with low efficiency of QMP distribution, and high rates of queen cell construction are optimally engaged for swarming.